Picture this: You’ve just come home from a long, stressful day at work, you didn’t get any sleep the night before and you are feeling a bit under the weather. What you really want to do is curl up under your covers with a massive mug of tea and your favourite book, but instead you promised you would meet your best friend for a fun night out. Do you:
A) Force yourself into a tight dress and uncomfortable heels, get gussied up and head on out?
B) Cancel on your friend, get into your PJ’s and catch a well needed early night?
I bet, like me, most of the time you would chose A), even if going out on the town is the last thing you want to do. We’ve all heard the maxim ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you’, but how many of us are actually that nice to ourselves? How many of us listen to our bodies and our feelings rather then forcing ourselves to do things we don’t really want to do? How many of us are actually kind to ourselves?
I am usually EXTREMELY guilty of not being kind to myself. If I feel ill, I force myself to go to work. If I’m tired but have plans, I won’t cancel - I don’t want to let my friends down. I stretch myself way too thin, and I am awful at recognizing when I need to slow down and relax.
The problem with this approach to life is that it always ends in one way: tears. And after a particularly bad meltdown recently, I decided enough was enough. I was going to be kind to myself.
Instead of forcing myself into work with a cold and a temperature, I took the day off, dosed myself up with medicine and gave my body a rest. And it worked - the rest of the week I felt great, and I was being productive at work.
When I was so tired I could’ve fallen asleep on the train, but had plans with friends, I cancelled. Guess what - my friends didn’t hate me for it, and when I caught up with them a few days later we had so much fun - mainly because I wasn’t exhausted.
My new approach to life has been working much better for not only my stress levels but for my happiness; I feel much more relaxed now that I am being kind to myself.
So, the next time you are feeling run-down, or ill, or just plain sad, be kind to yourself. Do whatever you need to do to make yourself feel you again - run a hot bath, light a candle, read a book - whatever makes you feel better. Kindness isn't just something you do for other people, it’s time being kind to ourselves is celebrated.